The gully erosion in the Rio Grande Plateau, Campos das Vertentes region, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil* Marx L. Naves Silva; Nilton Curi; João José G.S.M. Marques; Vinicius Martins Ferreira; Rogério Martins Ferreira Universidade Federal de Lavras (UFLA), Departamento de Ciência do Solo (DCS), PO Box 37, Zip Code 37200-000, Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Phone: 0313538291263, Fax: 0313538291251, E-mail:[email protected] * Publicated in 12 th ISCO Conference – International Soil Conservation Organiization Conference; 26 a 31/05/2002; Beijing - China The environmental degradation is one of the most critical problems faced today. Solutions are technically possible. However, the effects of soil degradation frequently persist. In this focus, there are new problems living together with old ones, and the environmental destruction is one of the most complex and critical. We come across risk situations such as the development of erosive processes in the Rio Grande Plateau, Campos das Vertentes region, Minas Gerais State, that no one had to face in the past history. The gullies, in the region, have their origins in the 18th century with the discovery of gold mines. At the end of the gold cycle, enormous craters, known as gullies (dimensions above 26 ha), and large deforested areas remained in the region. In the search to find explanations for these facts, two aspects stand out: the first is related to the complexity of the degradation processes, making it difficult to predict the consequences of the stabilization and control action for the future; the second is related to the knowledge and understanding of soil and water conservation basic concepts, by the local community, that many times are decoded in a way different from the reality, creating an obstacle in the development of the conscience of the severity of the real problem that surrounds them. Environmental education is a fundamental instrument at medium and long term for the consciousness-raising about the importance of soil and water conservation. Successful programs can be organized through the strengthening of the participation of the local community. Overcoming these problems is a central point to initiate a process of change. In this context, this study has the objective of developing a program of environmental education to control and stabilize the permanent gullies in the region. The aim is to contribute to the formation of a conscience about environmental degradation themes, particularly the ones in the region, such as the gullies. The Counties of Nazareno, Morro do Ferro, São Tiago, São João Del Rei, Lavras, Santo Antônio do Amparo are located in the Rio Grande Plateau, in the region of Campos das Vertentes, Minas Gerais State. The dominant soils are Cambisols and Latosols. These types of soils are derived from poor pelitic rocks, presenting many attributes favorable to the erosive process. In the search for solutions to control the gullies an environmental education and gully control program were created. The proposal is supported by the following interdisciplinary principles and ideas: control and stabilization of the gullies using bio-engineering techniques accessible and viable for small farmers, publishing of successful alternative technologies, diversification of the agricultural activities, production and distribution of seedlings of natural and exotic species. Implementation of the environmental education program and promotion of seed collecting, planting group-work, interpretative excursions, lectures, courses and enabling of teachers and students from the community activities and adoption of alternative technologies of sustainable development, professional enabling in the gully control, seedling production, garbage utilization, horticulture, landscaping and educational tourism and legal: proposal of specific legislation. The work methodology gives prominence to the community organization participating in the program and explores the interaction of the involved through sustainable development. The understanding of both the historic and dynamic reality is the basis to define the intervention and changes forms. The results presented here consider the perspectives and direction conducted by the local community according to its own dynamic. As the implementation of this program has a permanent, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary character, continuation of activities will be undertaken by the local organizations that were mobilized for this, with the technical support of the partner institutions.